Journal of Adult Development

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 135–145 | Cite as

The Content of Older Adults’ Autobiographical Memories Predicts the Beneficial Outcomes of Reminiscence Group Participation

  • Nicole Alea
  • Stephanie C. Vick
  • Alicia M. Hyatt


Much research has investigated the beneficial outcomes of reminiscence groups, like guided autobiography groups. Few have assessed whether the content of the autobiographical memories shared during these groups, however, predicts beneficial outcomes. This is the main goal of the current study. Sixteen participants responded to questionnaires about depression, death attitudes, and psychological well-being before and after an 8-week reminiscence group. Results indicated that group participation decreased depression, lowered fear and avoidance of death, and improved death acceptance. The 41 memory narratives collected from group participants were content analyzed for affective, cognitive, and sensory processes. Analyses revealed that memory content predicted levels of depression after group participation. Specifically, memories with more positive affective words (e.g., happy) predicted less depressive symptoms, and memories with negative cognitive process words (e.g., perhaps) predicted more depressive symptoms. The implications for remembering life events in old age are discussed.


Autobiographical memory Reminiscence groups Content analyses 



The work was partially supported by a Research Initiation Project grant awarded to Monika Ardelt, Department of Sociology, University of Florida.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicole Alea
    • 1
  • Stephanie C. Vick
    • 2
  • Alicia M. Hyatt
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Behavioural Sciences, Faculty of Social SciencesUniversity of the West IndiesSt. AugustineTrinidad & Tobago
  2. 2.Department of Human ServicesUniversity of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA
  3. 3.Greene Correctional InstitutionMauryUSA

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